Unfortunately the exact origin of the heart shape as a symbol of love has been obscured over time. With regards to jewellery, however, the earliest known examples of heart shaped love jewels appear around the fourteenth century in the form of rings and brooches, often inscribed with short love poems. This was the era of courtly love, the basis of the modern conception of romance, centred on knights and damsels in distress, and thus jewellery as a love token was a natural manifestation of this movement.
In the centuries to follow the heart symbol became solidified as the a symbol of romance, but at no time was it so popular as during the Victorian era. The Romantic Movement, with its focus on emotions and intuition, instilled the taste for sentimental jewellery. Queen Victoria (reigning monarchs ever being arbiters of taste) was particularly fond of love jewellery, and owned numerous heart jewels, including a heart charm bracelet with a charm representing each of her children.
Today the heart is widely accepted as the definitive symbol of love. If one cannot say it in words, then surely a heart shaped jewel is the ultimate way to express one’s feelings on the day of the celebration of love, Valentine’s Day.